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50 Questions I Answer to Judge a Consumer Brand

January 2, 2022

When the Sharma Brands team is at full capacity or companies are at a stage that’s too early to work with us, I try to help them via MentorPass. The idea is that it’s still me, you still get the strategy work from Sharma Brands, and you get all the intros (tech vendors, agencies, full-time candidates, other contractors, etc) I would normally make as a client, but all facilitated through the MentorPass platform. To be honest, they're my favorite calls to take, and the clients range from publicly traded companies to a quietly-humming $500M/year revenue brands to celebrities who are looking to launch their first brand.

In the first call, I like to spend 30 minutes or so going through a full diagnosis of the brand, or what I like to call the pre-flight checklist, to understand where there are opportunities to double-click, or fix low-hanging fruit. So in this email, as we get into the new year, I want to outline those questions and it'll help you reflect on where the opportunity lies. Feel free to email back your answers and I'll see if I can help at all with any of it.

Here’s our Pre-Flight DTC Checklist:


  • Are you hosted on Shopify?
  • Is your website conversion rate over 2.8% if your AOV is <$100, and over 1.5% if your AOV is over $100?
  • What is your website load time? It should be under 2 seconds at the minimum, ideally less.
  • Is your website designed mobile-first?
  • Do your PDPs tell the full story in case someone clicks from a tagged Instagram post for the first time?
  • Does your website tell a story or just sell a product?
  • Would someone who has never heard of your brand have to leave your site and use Google to understand the brand or its efficacy?
  • Does your website make users take extra steps to add their products to the cart if they want to get in and out quickly?
  • Do you sell the product on your site, or do you leverage customer feedback, reviews, testimonials, and earned media to help sell your product?



  • Do you deploy different edits of ad creative for different channels? For example, using a different creative for Snapchat vs Instagram stories?
  • Does each piece of creative answer these 3 questions for a customer:
  • What is it?
  • Why does it matter?
  • How will it help me better my life?
  • Are you diverse in the people you feature in your ads?
  • Does the creative feel modern? You can earn or lose trust right away based on the look & feel.
  • Does the ad creative feel native to the gestures of the platforms you're advertising in? For example, with TikTok you swipe left vs swiping up with Instagram stories.
  • Would your ads do well with engagement if they were posted organically?
  • Is the product variant you're showing in your ads in stock when people click and get to your site?
  • Does your creative feel consistent with your brand from a visual standpoint?


Customer Acquisition

  • Are you segmenting your audiences properly? Website visitors, ad engagers, video viewers, scroll-depth audiences, etc?
  • Are you cutting up your customer list properly and creating targeted lookalikes? High LTV customers, high NPS customers, fastest subscribers, longest video-viewers, high AOV, etc.
  • Are you running retargeting campaigns segmenting different steps and pushing different messaging? Someone should see different messaging and creative at the stages of hitting the site once, selecting a product, adding it to their cart, and beginning the checkout process. This should also match your site-abandon emails.
  • Are you running DPA ads across different platforms?
  • Are your DPA ads just plain, or did you use a platform like Enriched Catalogs to catch someone’s attention?
  • Are you targeting specific audiences with specific messaging and continuing that messing into your website?
  • Are you leveraging landing pages, listicles, and more paid-media-only site experiences?
  • Are you using a proper new-customer offer to introduce the brand the right way?
  • Are you replying to every single comment on paid media ads?
  • Are you leveraging affiliate channels to help lower your overall acquisition cost?
  • Does the AOV you're pushing match the paid channel a user comes from?


Brand + Story

  • If someone saw your ad and didn't go to your site, would they understand why you exist as a brand?
  • If someone went to your site without seeing an ad, would they understand why you exist without clicking around much?
  • Do you communicate WHY you exist on all the main pages: homepage, reviews, product pages, FAQ, collections page?
  • Do you communicate your WHY on your organic social media channels? Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest will quickly become the "Google" for Gen Z.
  • If your brand was a person, what kind of dinners or parties would they be invited to? Is that different than what you initially thought?
  • How do you set yourself apart from competitors that might sell the same thing? 
  • Are you emphasizing that advantage enough across your platforms?
  • Do you have a founder story incorporated into the brand? If no, then why not? Sometimes you don't need one, but it helps.
  • What stops a customer from switching to another company for the same product?
  • Why did the company start in the first place?
  • Is that communicated properly? That's a huge point that people will relate to.



  • Is your brand's unboxing experience something that people look forward to? Be honest with yourself here.
  • If you offer a subscription, what do you put in the box to get people excited to track their package and build excitement for its arrival?
  • Are you leveraging instant re-order capabilities like Batch within collateral or on the box/product packaging itself?
  • Is there anything in your box that encourages someone to share something with a friend?
  • Is it worthy enough for someone to post on their IG stories? Is it pretty enough?


Customer Service

  • Are you responding within 24 hours? How about 6 hours? 2 hours? Within 1 hour?
  • How much of your customer service is automated through using macros with Gorgias or software like Certainly?
  • Do you see the AOV go up after someone converses with customer service?
  • Do you see the LTV go up after someone converses with customer service?
  • How do you collect customer service inquiries? Is it just email, or also Twitter/Instagram/Facebook DMs?
  • Can someone text a phone number for customer service?


This is usually what we start with, and from there can identify low-hanging fruit opportunities. Feel free to email me what you answered and I'd love to help you find those opportunities or see what I can do to help make them happen.